New and returning faculty and staff gathered at two of the University of North Georgia’s (UNG) campuses on Aug. 16 for its annual Faculty and Staff Convocations led by UNG President Bonita Jacobs.
The convocations kicked-off in Dahlonega at 9 a.m. and in Gainesville at 3 p.m. and served as the launch of the 2016-2017 academic year.
"This important tradition, featuring the State of the University address by President Jacobs, allows the university community to gather to celebrate our achievements and prepare for the upcoming academic year," Tom Ormond, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said at the morning session.
In her address, Jacobs noted the progress that has already been made on many of the priorities identified in UNG’s five-year strategic plan, Engaging UNG, launched in 2014.
Jacobs emphasized how the successful actions associated with the four goals of UNG's strategic plan – to promote academic excellence and innovation, to enhance leadership and development of the whole person, to expand engagement and educational opportunity, and to build campus identity and institutional unity – have positive impact on educational opportunities and communities served by UNG faculty, staff and students.
"In our first goal, 'Promoting Academic Excellence and Innovation,' we talk about our culture as a state university focused on students and centered on learning and teaching. I am proud that our programs and faculty continue to create new world-class opportunities through advances like the College of Arts and Letters' new degree in strategic and security studies and the College of Health Sciences and Professions' new virtual hospital," Jacobs said.
"We know we do an excellent job, both in and outside the classroom, teaching critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication – professional leadership skills that make a difference. We must continue to find innovative ways to reach a constantly changing student body and help them prosper."
Other highlights included:
- Signature programs, like Corps of Cadets and the Leaving a Legacy of Leadership conference, which set a high bar of excellence for others to emulate.
- Emphasis on embracing diversity to ensure that UNG becomes even more welcoming and inclusive, notably the development of a graduate-level certificate program that explores historic and contemporary diversity topics.
- An annual economic impact of $545 million in the communities UNG serves.
- UNG Blue Ridge Campus growing from 21 students when it opened in August 2014 to more than 100 this fall.
- Increased annual fundraising for scholarships from less than $500,000 to nearly $2.5 million in just three years.
- Ranking on Forbes magazine’s list of "Best Colleges" for the first time.
"With President Jacobs' leadership, UNG is gaining well-deserved recognition by our peers and those across the country who are interested in higher education. Repeatedly, she credits this recognition to the outstanding work by our faculty and staff to ensure the success of our students and to engage with our community partners to meet the needs of this region," Richard Oates, vice president of UNG's Gainesville Campus, said.
The university's enrollment is expected to exceed 18,000 students across its five campuses when the fall semester begins on Aug. 22, and 120 new faculty and staff positions will be added.
"The devotion our staff and faculty have to UNG and to our students makes a positive difference in the lives of countless individuals in our campus community and also to individuals and communities across our state, our nation and around the globe. And I thank each and every one of you," Jacobs said.